The Routledge Guide to Interviewing : Oral History, Social Enquiry and Investigation book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Guide to Interviewing
Oral History, Social Enquiry and Investigation

ISBN 9780415710756
Published December 13, 2013 by Routledge
160 Pages

USD $44.95

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Book Description

The Routledge Guide to Interviewing sets out a well-tested and practical approach and methodology: what works, difficulties and dangers to avoid and key questions which must be answered before you set out. Background methodological issues and arguments are considered and drawn upon but the focus is on what is ethical, legally acceptable and productive:

  • Rationale (why, what for, where, how)
  • Ethics and Legalities (informed consent, data protection, risks, embargoes)
  • Resources (organisational, technical, intellectual)
  • Preparation (selecting and approaching interviewees, background and biographical research, establishing credentials, identifying topics)
  • Technique (developing expertise and confidence)
  • Audio-visual interviews
  • Analysis (modes, methods, difficulties)
  • Storage (archiving and long-term preservation)
  • Sharing Resources (dissemination and development)

From death row to the mansion of a head of state, small kitchens and front parlours, to legislatures and presbyteries, Anna Bryson and Seán McConville’s wide interviewing experience has been condensed into this book. The material set out here has been acquired by trial, error and reflection over a period of more than four decades. The interviewees have ranged from the delightfully straightforward to the painfully difficult to the near impossible – with a sprinkling of those that were impossible.

Successful interviewing draws on the survival skills of everyday life. This guide will help you to adapt, develop and apply these innate skills. Including a range of useful information such as sample waivers, internet resources, useful hints and checklists, it provides sound and plain-speaking support for the oral historian, social scientist and investigator.

Table of Contents

Preface.  Introduction.  1. Thinking Ahead  2.Ethics and Legalities  3. Resources  4. Groundwork  5. Developing Technique  6. Special Care  7. Shifting Focus  8. Storage  9. Analysis  10. Possibilities.  Credo.

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Anna Bryson is Research Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. She has considerable experience of conducting interviews for social and historical investigation. Recent publications encompass ethnographical research on Northern Ireland, prison diaries, biography and criminology. She has advised both statutory and private organisations on the design and implementation of complex interview-based projects.

Seán McConville is Professor of Law and Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London. He has researched and taught at leading universities on both sides of the Atlantic. His interests and publications range widely, from Islamic criminal law to prison architecture, but have clustered around the philosophy and administration of punishment – historically, comparatively and in current debates. His publications include Irish Political Prisoners 1848-1922 (Routledge, 2003) and Irish Political Prisoners 1920-1962 (Routledge, 2013).


'Bryson and McConville have produced a comprehensive survival guide for new and seasoned interviewers which takes our everyday experience of social interaction as a starting point for demystifying the interview process. Covering all the bases from initial approaches to potential interviewees to storage and management, this book is a comprehensive ‘how to’ guide that should help to minimise mistakes and maximise the value of the interview process. Designed for a wide readership, from academics to community workers, therapists to artists, this is a plain speaking troubleshooting guide to the world of the interview.' - Lynn Abrams, University of Glasgow, UK